Helping your kids ride the emotional rollercoaster of fear

Helping your kids ride the emotional rollercoaster of fear

The emotional rollercoaster is one that we ride for life. And sometimes it’s a lot less fun than the physical amusement park kind. But over time, we learn to navigate the ups and downs, the twists and turns, and even the loops. Our kids, however, are still new to this ride. So, as the all-knowing, holding-the-secrets-to-life parents, it’s our job to hold their hand and help them navigate it. But don’t you worry! We’ll be right there by your side to give you some handy tips and tricks that cover some of the more common emotions you might come across on this rollercoaster. On today’s ride, let’s talk about fear.

Fear is an emotion that has been a part of us since our ancestral days of monkeying around. In fact, without fear, we probably wouldn’t have made it out of them. Back then fear was simple; if I don’t run, this thing with pointy teeth will eat me. But now, getting eaten is probably the last thing we’re afraid of. Changing their diaper after a dinner that consists of some beans or corn is much scarier. But for our kids, fear is still new and oftentimes irrational. When they’re younger, it’s a fear of the dark or the fear of being left alone whereas when they grow older, it’s about more realistic things like the pandemic or growing up. Dealing with it, however, is not something they can instantly do. And that’s where we come in. Here’s how you can hold their hand through this: 

Take it seriously

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A lot of our kids’ fears might be completely impossible. But they don’t know that yet. For them, the monster in the closet feels very real. So, the first step as parents is to listen and take their fears seriously, no matter how silly they may seem. We also tend to say things like “Don’t worry about it” or “There’s nothing to be scared of” as a way to comfort our kids. But to them, it seems like we’re trying to brush their fears off and in the future, they might think it’s not okay to talk to us about it and that’s a pretty scary thing as a parent. 

One step at a time:

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Once we’ve identified and understood what our little ones are afraid of, our first instinct might be to do everything in our power to keep them away from it. But avoiding it is not helping anyone in the long run. So instead of avoiding it, try taking tiny, baby steps towards it. That doesn’t mean if your child is scared of water, you should throw them in the pool. Instead, start with just talking about how nice the shallow pool is. Then when they’re comfortable, step in with them and hold their hand as you just relax in it. By breaking their fears up into these tiny pieces, it makes them easier to confront and naturally acclimatise to them. 

Give them your loudest cheer!

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Their fear isn’t going to disappear overnight. It doesn’t for anybody. So, with every teeny tiny step they take, make sure to always cheer them on and let them know who’s the boss of that monster in the closet. Being patient and providing praise allows them to develop a growth mindset and will let them know that progress always matters, no matter how little. 

Usually, we can do a pretty good job of helping our kids overcome their fears. But sometimes, the fear can be really intense for reasons that we might not be equipped to understand. And in those cases, asking for help from an expert is the best thing to do. Yes, we’re worried for them and there might be some apprehension in visiting a professional but it’s our job to do what’s best for them. So don’t beat yourself up or worry if you can’t help them overcome their fears on your own. You’ll always be there for them no matter what. 

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